Friday, October 31 2014

Muslim 'Refused Job Because of His Name'



 The Mail on Sunday reported: “A Muslim airport worker has accused airline Cathay Pacific of racism after he was refused a job interview – only to be offered one when he applied two days later using a fake white British-sounding name.”

“Algerian-born Salim Zakhrouf applied to Cathay Pacific for a job as a passenger services officer at Heathrow Airport.

“Mr Zakhrouf, 38, who has lived in Britain since 1991 and is a UK citizen, was told by email he had not been selected for interview.

“But applying 48 hours later as 'Ian Woodhouse' with an identical CV and home address, he was invited for an interview by the same personnel officer who had first refused him.

“A furious Mr Zakhrouf, who has 17 years’ customer-service experience and works as a Heathrow flight handling agent, refused to attend.

“Instead he called his union, Unite, which plans to bring a case accusing Cathay Pacific of racial discrimination to an employment tribunal.

“Within three hours of The Mail on Sunday contacting the airline, Cathay Pacific's UK Head of Marketing Roberto Abbondio called to apologise.”

“Mr Zakhrouf, who is married with a 19-month-old daughter, told The Mail on Sunday:

‘It’s very strange I only received a proper response when you got in touch.

‘After the way I was treated I have no desire to work for Cathay.

‘The way they handled my application was racist and unfair.

‘I have applied seven times for jobs at Cathay in the past three years and I have been rejected every time.’”


The experience of Mr. Zakhrouf is strikingly similar to the results of a 2004 investigation by BBC Radio Five Live, which uncovered “shocking” racism toward Muslims among virtually every sector of the job market in Britain.

In their experiment, dummy CVs were sent to fifty companies on behalf of six fictitious applicants - Abu Olasemi, Fatima Khan, Jenny Hughes, John Andrews, Nasser Hanif and Yinka Olatande – all of whom had the same standard of qualifications and experience.

Their research found that “almost a quarter of applications by two candidates given traditionally "white" names - Jenny Hughes and John Andrews - resulted in interview offers.”

“But only 9% of the ‘Muslim’ applications, by the fictitious Fatima Khan and Nasser Hanif, prompted a similar response.”


Last February, David Blanchflower (Economics Editor of the New Statesman) investigated how British Muslims have been affected by the economic downturn and found that Muslims were more than twice as likely to unemployed than the national average. This problem was especially pronounced in the unemployment rates among Muslim youth. A National Equality Panel report published in January last year, further detailed the economic disadvantages suffered by British Muslims.

7 years on from the BBC Radio Five Live investigation, it seems there is a need for a lot more to be done to tackle discrimination against British Muslims in the job market. As David Blanchflower argued in his article last year, “It is important that public policy is designed to ensure that Muslims in general, and young Muslims in particular, do not become further marginalised.”

The Mail on Sunday report further stated that the union, Unite, has taken up the case of Mr Zakhrouf:

“Unite regional officer Balvinder Bir said: ‘We have consulted our solicitors on this case.

“‘We take these matters very seriously and will be giving our member our full support.’”








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